Louisiana news briefs
Court: Cop killer is not disabled, can be executed
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that condemned killer Kevan Brumfield is not mentally disabled and can be put to death for the 1993 ambush slaying of Baton Rouge police Cpl. Betty Smothers.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said U.S. District Judge James Brady erred in concluding in February 2012 that Brumfield is mentally disabled and ineligible for execution.
Smothers was working an off-duty security job when she was fatally shot shortly after midnight on Jan. 7, 1993, while driving a grocery store manager to a bank to make a night deposit.
The manager, Kimen Lee, survived the attack despite being shot numerous times.
Port Allen council OKs budget
PORT ALLEN (AP) — The Port Allen City Council received a round of applause from residents after it finally adopted a 2013-14 fiscal year budget.
The council’s unanimous agreement on the approximately $7 million spending plan Wednesday came more than six months after the council was supposed to approve a 2013-14 budget by June 30.
Since July 1 the city has had to survive off of 50 percent of the revenue that was declared in its previous fiscal year budget.
The council’s delay in approving a new budget was mostly due to ongoing tensions between a majority of the City Council and former Mayor Demetric Slaughter. Slaughter was ousted from office in November following a recall effort.
Lafourche school Supt. gets high marks in evaluation
THIBODAUX (AP) — The Lafourche Parish School Board has rated School Superintendent JoAnn Matthews as excellent in her semi-annual evaluation.
When performing evaluations, board members look at the superintendent’s record, including how she manages the budget, the finances and employees. Matthews was also evaluated according to student test scores and performance.
Oberlin mayor resigns
OBERLIN (AP) — Oberlin mayor Rick Smith has resigned from office, citing town officials’ lack of communication and unwillingness to work together.
Smith, who has served as mayor three years, announced his resignation Wednesday, a day after meeting with state legislative auditors concerning the town’s financial crisis and pending audit. Findings of the audit are expected to be made public Monday.
Smith said problems with the town’s finances are nothing new, but that council members have refused to work with him on ways to improve the town’s financial status — including repairing 75 nonfunctioning water and gas meters that have in turn caused the town to lose revenue.
Smith said the council has refused to work together to try to balance the budget and take care of finances.
Nursing educators hard to find
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The inability to find nursing faculty has stalled the start of South Louisiana Community College’s new registered nursing program at least six months.
In August, the college announced it hoped to start classes by early spring.
But, Christine Payton, SLCC public relations director, says it’s been difficult to fill two of the four full-time faculty positions.
To allow time for curriculum development, Laurie Fontenot, SLCC’s dean for nursing, allied health and safety, says the Louisiana Board of Nursing requires faculty to be in place at least six months before students are admitted.
Payton said Fontenot conducted interviews this week for one of the two open positions.
LSU to study impact
of mosquito spray on bees
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A $167,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help researchers at the LSU Agricultural Center determine whether lab-tested safety precautions to protect honey bees from mosquito spraying actually work in the field.
Lead researcher Kristen Healy, assistant professor of entomology at the LSU Agricultural Center, said most of the work on insecticide safety around bees has been done in lab settings with little testing of how those safety measures work in the real world.
Last spring, mosquito control staff and beekeepers met to discuss concerns that mosquito spraying could harm bee hives.
Healy said the mosquito control sprayers and beekeepers approached her early last year about how to measure the effectiveness of safety measures.
La. colleges lagging
in online degree programs
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana didn’t have a good showing in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 ranking of online degree programs, with only four universities ranked in the top 200.
However, the state’s poor representation on the list doesn’t necessarily mean Louisiana programs are lacking in quality.
Instead, college administrators offered a number of reasons why Louisiana schools might be lagging behind counterparts in other states. They said the most likely reason is that Louisiana’s programs are newer and haven’t had time to establish themselves.
Of the Louisiana schools included in the rankings, Loyola University had the best showing, coming in at 32nd.
The other ranked schools include: Northwestern State University at 108th; Nicholls State University ranks 141st; and Louisiana-Monroe ranked at 160th.
Kinder police chief arrested
KINDER (AP) — State police have arrested the Kinder police chief.
Sgt. James Anderson says 52-year-old Gary Pelican was booked with theft and malfeasance.
Anderson says an investigation by state police detectives determined that he was allegedly using town credit cards to fuel vehicles belonging to family members.
Fire strikes Pat O’Brien’s bar
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans firefighters have extinguished a small fire that broke out inside a well-known French Quarter bar and briefly shut down part of Bourbon Street.
The fire department says the fire started Wednesday morning in a central heating unit on the third floor of Pat O’Brien’s bar.
Workers told firefighters that dust on the heating unit ignited and filled the building with smoke.
The fire department says the fire was contained to the heating unit and only caused minor smoke and water damage to the building.
No injuries were reported.
Pat O’Brien’s opened in 1933 and is known for its signature Hurricane drink.